Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Workers ask PH government to declare climate emergency, press carbon majors and rich countries to pay for climate debt

The cost of damage from extreme natural disasters is too much to bear for victims living in the most climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines. Thus, for the labor coalition Nagkaisa, the most responsible for the climate crisis – the rich industrial countries or the Annex 1 countries in the climate negotiations, and the ‘carbon majors, a hundred companies responsible for 70% of carbon emissions in the world –  should be the ones footing the bill for the climate damage being suffered by developing nations. 

The Philippines contributes less than 1% in carbon emissions, yet we suffer the most from climate devastations. 

“How can we recover from COVID-19 and advance into a sustainable future when we pay so much for damages not of our own making? To us, the government must be present not only in calamity-hit areas but also in the negotiating tables pressing rich countries and their TNCs to pay for climate debts they owe us,” said the group in a statement.

Nagkaisa noted that the billions of pesos in damages require the same amount or even higher in the recovery and restoration efforts alone. Preliminary estimate of damage from “Ulysses” has already breached P10B. It was also reported that “Rolly” and “Quinta” left some P11B in total damages.  

These are all preliminary estimates, the group said, but it added that between 2006 and 2015 the government estimated the damages from natural calamities to have reached P374B based on official accounting made by the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Compendium of Philippine Environmental Statistics in 2016. Another report from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies puts the total damage at P571B from “Yolanda” (2013) alone. The same PIDS study puts the average annual damages due to typhoons at P133.2B. 

Meanwhile, the government allocates a declining budget to the calamity fund from the 

“We’re running on a trillion peso deficit now due to COVID-19 and here these damages are, asking for the same attention and resources for recovery and rebuilding.  Either we, the taxpayers, will continue footing those bills forever or we charge them all to the world’s biggest polluters,” asserted Nagkaisa. 

Annex 1 countries are the richest industrial countries, while carbon majors are transnational companies (TNCs) involved mostly in the extraction and production of fossil fuel.

The Commission on Human Rights has already ruled on the moral and legal culpability of these carbon majors on the petition filed by trade unions and social movements in 2015. 

Nagkaisa has been pushing for a labor agenda which include income and employment guarantees. Included in the group’s public employment agenda is a nature and employment-based recovery program such as the creation of green and climate jobs in renewable energy, housing and building sector, transportation, and nature conservation.

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